The jersey sailor dress, women’s trousers, low-waisted evening gowns and, of course, the famous little black dress or the tweed suit … It’s impossible to tell the history of twentieth-century fashion without invoking Gabrielle Chanel because of her influence in the world of fashion. Her simple and flowing wardrobe freed the female silhouette and installed women in the twentieth, if not the twenty-first century. The strength of this extraordinary designer is that she knew how to live with the times, to have sensed the fashions and accompanied the movement of female emancipation while setting herself up as a model. From the opening of her first milliner’s workshop in 1909 to her death in 1971, Gabrielle Chanel never stopped refining a resolutely modern conception of elegance.From her beginnings in 1912 in Deauville, then in Biarritz and Paris, Gabrielle Chanel introduced a new silhouette.
The woman who revolutionized fashion with her sober, simple and fluid lines said: “There is no other beauty than the freedom of the body.”
Favoring comfort and playing with masculine codes, Chanel shortens skirts, abandons the waist and designs functional and practical outfits, so that women can wear clothing while remaining what they are. In doing so, she founded a “new pact between costume and clothing”, in the words of Edmond Charles-Roux, and propelled the women’s wardrobe into modernity. The sought-after sobriety of her outfits is also synonymous with elegance: accessories, jewelry combining rhinestones, semi-precious stones and fine jewelry embellish the very studied simplicity of the Chanel silhouette.
At the same time, Gabrielle Chanel was one of the first great couturiers to create her own perfumes, starting with the iconic N°5, intended as a “woman’s perfume with a woman’s scent”, which became the world’s best-selling perfume as early as 1929. A hard worker, this designer, who became rich by inventing the “poor genre”, built an empire on a name that became a symbol of French elegance that was both chic and modern.